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Erdogan vows no let-up in anti-PKK fight as unrest flares

Erdogan's promise for relentless offensive against Kurdish militants comes as clashes erupt in Diyarbakir
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara on Wednesday (AFP)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed there would be "no concessions" in Turkey's relentless offensive against Kurdish militants, as its southeast was hit by new deadly violence.

One Turkish soldier and two suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were killed on Wednesday in clashes in the southeast that erupted when the Kurdish rebels attacked a military post in the Diyarbakir region, the army said.

"A state subjected to an armed attack has the right to defend (itself) with arms," Erdogan had said before the latest bloodshed, vowing there would be "no concessions" in the fight against "terror".

Turkey is currently pressing a two-pronged "anti-terror" offensive against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and the PKK following a wave of attacks inside the country. 

But, so far, the air strikes have overwhelmingly concentrated on the separatist Kurdish rebels to the frustration of Western commentators who want to see Turkey ramp up its involvement in the fight against IS.

"Let me put it clearly, the operations will continue," Erdogan told local municipal chiefs at his presidential palace in Ankara.

"We will never stop in the face of all these attacks. We will continue to fight with determination," he added.

The state-run Anatolia news agency reported over the weekend that so far 390 "terrorists" had been killed in the campaign against the PKK.

But the Kurdish rebels have hit back, leaving a 2013 truce in tatters and a peace process to end its 35-year insurgency for autonomy and greater rights at a dead end.

According to an AFP toll, 30 members of the security forces have been killed in PKK-linked violence since the current crisis began.

Erdogan called on the PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community, to lay down its arms and bury them "under concrete".

"We extended our hand but they responded with arms," Erdogan said, reaffirming his verdict that the peace process was now "on ice".

New anti-IS raids? 

Ankara has also vowed to begin strikes in the coming days against IS militants in Syria alongside US forces who have begun arriving at the strategic Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

Washington has long been pushing its NATO ally to step up the fight against IS, and Ankara's involvement in the coalition has been as a game-changer in the fight against IS.

Brett McGurk, deputy US envoy for the anti-IS coalition, wrote on Twitter that he was back in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials "to advance our joint cooperation" against IS militants.

Turkish authorities on Wednesday detained at least a dozen suspected IS members in coordinated dawn raids including the capital Ankara and Istanbul, the official Anatolia news agency reported. 

The authorities on Tuesday announced the arrest of 23 foreign nationals - from China, Indonesia, Russia and Ukraine - who were trying to cross into Syria to join IS via the southeastern border town of Kilis. 

In Paris, a high-ranking Turkish official told reporters that Ankara had this year expelled more than 700 people who had tried to cross into Syria to join IS.

Iran closed its main border crossing into Turkey after an Iranian truck was attacked as it crossed over from the Islamic Republic, state television said Wednesday, without saying who was behind the violence.

Turkey still has no new government following 7 June legislative elections, where the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by Erdogan, lost its overall majority.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu are to meet on Thursday for what is seen a make-or-break meeting on forming a coalition.

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